Two-dimensional (2D) materials exhibit remarkable mechanical properties, enabling their applications as flexible and stretchable ultrathin devices. As the origin of several extraordinary mechanical behaviors, ferroelasticity has also been predicted theoretically in 2D materials, but so far lacks experimental validation and investigation. Here, we present the experimental demonstration of 2D ferroelasticity in both exfoliated and chemical-vapor-deposited β’-In2Se3 down to few-layer thickness. We identify quantitatively 2D spontaneous strain originating from in-plane antiferroelectric distortion, using both atomic-resolution electron microscopy and in situ X-ray diffraction. The symmetry-equivalent strain orientations give rise to three domain variants separated by 60° and 120° domain walls (DWs). Mechanical switching between these ferroelastic domains is achieved under ≤0.5% external strain, demonstrating the feasibility to tailor the antiferroelectric polar structure as well as DW patterns through mechanical stimuli. The detailed domain switching mechanism through both DW propagation and domain nucleation is unraveled, and the effects of 3D stacking on such 2D ferroelasticity are also discussed. The observed 2D ferroelasticity here should be widely available in 2D materials with anisotropic lattice distortion, including the 1T’ transition metal dichalcogenides with Peierls distortion and 2D ferroelectrics such as the SnTe family, rendering tantalizing potential to tune 2D functionalities through strain or DW engineering.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)